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We Make the World as We Imagine

Often, we think that the world is as it is because of external forces; most of these forces are uncontrollable and often random.  Since we do not like to think of ourselves as powerless, we tend to attribute the forces of nature and the physical world to a higher order.

While I, too believe in God, I don’t believe in predetermination, nor that God controls our world.  Rather, I believe that my sense of good, morality, and the sanctity of our existence, the magical forces that seem to permeate every aspect of our world, how cells form, interact, and provide energy and life, that how I think and feel and that I am capable of communicating my thoughts and beliefs through words and deeds come from a mystical, magical, wonderful, spectacular, fantastic, supercalifragilisticexpialidociously delicious thing/unthing that I think of as God.

While I don’t really like a lot of what we humans are doing to our world, I do think that it is being created and destroyed in our own image.  That is, we are making it the way we think of ourselves.  If we think of ourselves as being power-hungry, dirty, insatiable animals, competing and fighting each other for domination of others and for resources, putting self-gratification above nearly everything else, then that is how we create our world.  I like to think of humans as being intelligent, cooperative, curious, fun-seeking, adventurous, self-depreciating, humorous, amusing, and loving, caring entities, so I hope to create a different world than what I see in my local and global environment.

But of course there are natural and other disasters that we cannot directly predict or control. I don’t deny that.  But there is so much that we CAN do, to mitigate the most disastrous effects of natural catastrophes and to engage in programs and policies that reduce the likelihood of large scale human-induced calamities.  What I am saying is that we are making choices to mitigate or exacerbate the effects of natural and human-induced disasters.

We also make our world in our image in how we deal with disaster.  In the aftermath of calamity, how we deal with people, property, and environment directly reflects our image of ourselves and the priorities of our communities.  I’ve read recently a variety of news articles about the relief efforts in the aftermath one year after Hurricane Sandy.  With nearly half a trillion dollars of relief funds raised publicly and privately, apparently less than half of it has been distributed to date.  In particular, small business and housing loans and grants have been particularly slow to deliver.

In Syria yesterday, I heard that around 2000 people trapped in Moadamiyeh, a suburb of Damascus, were evacuated after being trapped for months without food, medical supplies, or assistance, after being surrounded for months by government forces.  This has been reported in many western news sources, including this report in the Huffington Post.  There seems to me to be much wrong with how the world is dealing with such humanitarian crises such as these.

However, I think that there is more in our world that gives hope, rather than despair.  I try to find the things that we create that are good and expand on these, rather than to focus on the bad and regret them.

In the aftermath of Japan’s 3.11.2011 triple disaster, more than 15,000 people were killed, thousands were injured, more than a million buildings were damaged or destroyed, 340,000 people were displaced, and an estimated US$235B in damages ravaged the nation.  The effects of the disaster continue 2 and 1/2 years on, particularly with the continuing nuclear crisis at Fukushima Daiichi Reactor.  We continue to receive occasional word of radiation leaks, stoppage of cooling facilities, and failing words of reassurance that everything is under control.

But the efforts of a violin craftsman in Tokyo to make instruments from wood recovered from homes and other debris discarded after the disaster are particularly reassuring.  Nakazawa Muneyuki is the 72 year old master craftsman, who started to make instruments using this wood less than a year after the disaster.  In particular, the sound post – sometimes referred to as the âme, meaning “soul” in French – is made from the wood of the single miracle pine tree that remained standing in Rikuzen Takata in Iwate Prefecture, that became a strong symbol of strength and perseverance for the victims of the disaster.  In addition to violins, Nakazawa most recently also made a cello, which was played yesterday, October 29, 2013, at Suntory Hall in Akasaka by the renowned cellist, Yo Yo Ma.

This is a perfect example of how I think we make our world in our image.  If we imagine our world to be a kind, beautiful, and loving place, we can create it.  I think that Nakazawa, Yo Yo Ma, and J.S. Bach all have a lot to say about creating a better world.  Thanks!

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